A Change of Perspective

Editor’s Note: We truly are surrounded by a host of women who are living lives of faith. What’s even more amazing is that we are surrounded by Christ himself who is cheering us on to victory. Our stories are as different as the characters in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11, yet each one of us is running a race that requires faith. This semester women have read Hebrews 12:1-2 and shared what God placed on their heart. We are cheering you on in your journey of faith in Christ!

When I was 16, I made a covenant to pray and wait for my future husband. In that season of singleness I delved into the word of the LORD. I focused all of my being on the One who created me. He showed me His heart for me and I was never in doubt of who I was to Him. I prayed constantly for my future husband. “Lord, guard his heart. Give him courage. Make him like you. Give him a heart like David.” Praying for my future husband was making me reposition my heart and causing me to be less self focused. My prayers were not, “God send me a man that you know I need.” It wasn’t selfish. It was more about his relationship with the LORD than it was about him coming to me. I would be remiss if I didn’t also add that I surrounded myself with young men and women of the same mind. I wanted to keep my covenant and I knew I would need encouragement.

About four years later, God brought me Rance. God knew I needed this headstrong, tender, courageous, idealistic, loving, risk taking man and I had no idea I did. Rance did NOT check ANY of my personal boxes. I know, however, that God knew exactly what I really needed more than I did. We really have only two things in common; that we wholeheartedly pursue the LORD and His people.

If you’re in a season of singleness, there’s probably a ton of people telling you to be patient. That God has someone in mind for you. And my favorite: Don’t look, and then he’ll show up!

One day, God rephrased these well intended words for me. He said, “SEEK MY HEART FOR YOU! I have something BETTER than you can imagine. I have a better YES coming your way.”

God wanted to reposition my heart to concentrate on HIM and HIS HEART for me.

Not the man he had in mind; not what I was supposed to do to find him.

This allowed me to view my season of singleness with not only hope that God had something amazing planned, but with CONTENTMENT with where He had me. Seasons are given to us as a gift. Not for us to use selfishly but for us to use to build up the BODY OF CHRIST. Just like all the other spiritual gifts we are given. (1 Cor. 12-14 and Ephesians 4:12-16.)

When you find yourself being discontented in your season, surround yourself with women of HONOR and of good repute. (Proverbs 31) Look to Jesus. Focus your heart on Him. Ask your friends to pray with you. Ask the people around you to help you reposition you heart. (Romans 12:2) Above all. Pursue the LORD with all your heart, mind, body, and soul because HE made you and HE knows what you need. (Luke 10:27) In Hebrews, the author says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every hinderance and let us run the race before us, looking to Jesus, The AUTHOR and Perfecter of our faith.” (Heb. 12:1-2) Look to Jesus, beloved. Let him be the author of your story, not you. Choose to pursue Jesus instead of a spouse. You won’t regret it.

We would like to thank Rachel Loafman for writing this post!

Seeking Truth in Your Weakness

Editor’s Note: This semester we’ve focused on Titus 2 and the wisdom God’s word offers us in every season of life. Our prayer is that you will be encouraged by the posts to connect with God where you are now and be obedient to His voice.

It’s that time of year again: when everything that can happen to mess up my plans and screw up everything I thought I knew does happen. Almost as if I was getting a little too cocky, a little too confident, all the plates I was holding up fell and smashed into a million pieces. You know, the time when you throw up your hands and say, “Well, it can’t get any worse”? And yet somehow the world figures out a way to make it worse? That was me. Even though I’ve definitely, completely grown up now that I’ve gone off to school and can totally do everything on my own, my first thought was that I needed to talk to my mom.

I grew up with a mother who is fiercely devoted to whatever she does. She is stubborn, black-and-white, and conversely, one of the most sensitive and discerning people I have ever had the pleasure to be around. She’s also my best friend in the entire world. If there’s one thing I have learned after leaving for college last fall, it’s exactly how much I don’t know, and exactly how much she does. She sticks in her spot and knows what is right. As I was reading through Titus 2 this week, I latched onto that image immediately as one of my mother: wise, pure, honoring, submissive. (Also, a huge dork. It must be genetic.)

Recently, I have been really lucky to have a boyfriend that was my person, my best friend. We liked all the same things, shared the same interests in ministry, in travel, in books and poetry. He was the guy that made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt, who listened when I needed it, and made me look at the world a little differently. And last week, after a hard night of prayer and really dramatic arguments with the Lord (you know, the unbending Master of All Things?) I realized I had to end our relationship.

Friends, I fought that realization violently. And when I finally made myself confront him and confessed where I realized our issues were, he came back a day later and gave me all the reasons to stay together. I felt like a deer cornered by my own emotions, staring at that bright light, unable to move because if I’m honest…

I really didn’t want to.

Meeting my parents for lunch that weekend meant that I had to tell them everything, because I knew that I couldn’t trust my own decision-making. They gave little advice, asked few questions. And then my mom looked me directly in the eyes and said, “I know you’ll make the right decision.” With those words, I got a glimpse of what my mother has demonstrated her entire life: that she seeks the truth, in spite of her weaknesses.

So, I obeyed the Lord even as it cut me open. 2 Corinthians 4 says it better than I can: that we are “afflicted in every way, but not crushed… so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

Lean on His life, friends, and those shattered plates will be put back together.

Leah Jarvis from our Amarillo campus contributed this post.

Experiencing God’s Love During Singleness

Have you ever paused, reflected on your life and thought “How did I end up here?  This is not where I thought I would be.”  This is the very place I found myself last November, right before the holidays. It was a rough season to get through, but I also look back at that time with such joy and thankfulness.  I was in the beginning stages of learning how to become more intimate with my Lord and Savior.

At the beginning of this journey, Satan often reminded me of my track record. I’d had glorious moments with God since I became a Christian at the age of 13, but I had never been consistent.  But.  God had begun a work in me, and I final started having the faith that He would and could complete it (Philippians 1:6).  I begged God to show me how to have consistency and intimacy with Him.  He didn’t give me answers overnight, but He has taken me on a beautiful adventure that has required time, trust, and willingness.  I want to share with you a few things that I’ve learned so far on this road to being content in my singleness.

God’s love is unfailing, and unconditional. One night, my youngest son was sick, and I was getting some serious baby snuggles as a result.  The weight of how much I love him swept over me.  I touched his soft baby skin and held his tiny finger in adoration when my eyes were opened wide to the love the Father feels for the Son. I am one of His adopted daughters (Galatians 3:26) and He loves me with that love I feel for my children, multiplied by an amount unfathomable.

For the longest time, the way I thought about God’s love was twisted and conditional.  Over time, by meditating on the truth, I have come to realize that I am valuable to Him (Psalm 139:14; Matthew 10:31) and that His love and grace really can transform me into who He created me to be (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:16; 2 Corinthians 3:18).   If you are reading this and doubt in the least bit the love God has for you, ask Him to show you.  He will.

I gain more of God by letting go. Tragically, sin has been blocking intimacy with God since the very first sin recorded in Genesis.  Praise God that 1 John 1:9 states:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Letting go of my past and accepting His forgiveness was a process, but I’m finally starting to see myself the way He sees me, and it’s so freeing!  I am free to be close to Him and have joy.

Spending time with God is the best way to want more of Him and purify our desires in other areas.  Prayer journaling was a great start for me, because I had a hard time focusing on my prayers at first.  I still love to write my prayers, but I also tend to connect faster when I’m looking at His beautiful creation. If you are having a hard time feeling His presence, please try something new….be willing.

Whatever season God personally has you in today my friend, my prayer for you is that He will bless you with more of Himself.

This post was written by Korey Coffman. To read more about her, click here.

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Making a Home During the Season of Singleness

decorTo me, hospitality means creating a welcoming place…for others as well as for yourself. It’s creating a place of beauty and rest. But this will look different for each person.

What does it mean to have a heart of hospitality, and how can you do that during a season of being single?

Some of you may think that you don’t really need to be “hospitable.” No one ever comes over to your house anyway! Or maybe you live in the dorm…How can you show hospitality there? Or maybe this whole idea of hospitality just overwhelms you, and you don’t know where to start. Let me tell you a few stories…

I learned about welcoming people into my home at a young age. When I was in junior high and high school, my parents helped lead the college group at our church. At least once a month (often more frequently), we would have a group of students over to our house. I learned to set the table (or set out TV trays!), greet everyone at the door with a smile, and help wash the dishes after everyone left. I didn’t realize then that I was learning a valuable tool for my future.

Learning how to implement hospitality in different settings sometimes takes creativity.

When I was in college, there was an upstairs lobby in our dorm. Besides using it for weekly dorm Bible studies, it was mainly abandoned. I asked my RHS if I could decorate it, and she gave permission. For less than $30, I blew up some pictures that I’d taken myself (mainly of landscapes or flowers), put them in a whole bunch of empty box frames from my parent’s garage, hung the pictures on the walls, and decorated the window frame. Then I would plug in my hot water kettle and invite people over for tea (Even some non-college adult women friends kindly humored me by coming to my little corner!).

Hospitality is not just for others; it’s creating a welcoming place for you to come home to, especially if you live by yourself. Two things that I learned from the book The Spirit of Loveliness:

  • Light lamps; It’s always nice to come home to at least a lamp lit in the hallway and in the bathroom (this has been true no matter what apartment I’ve lived in)
  • Play music; Music changes the atmosphere, and always puts me in a happier mood, even if it’s just for washing dishes

You don’t have to have a big or fancy place. It’s the atmosphere—the feel­­—­that you give people when they come into your space. Do they feel welcomed? Do they feel relaxed? Do they feel at home?

Creating a place for people to come and feel welcomed is a spiritual activity. As we prepare and pray over our “space,” it opens our hearts up to the people who are coming in. And it opens up people’s hearts to experience the welcoming love of our God.

This post was written by Heather Dillard. To read more about her, click here. 

Responding to What’s Real

messy flowersThe feminine heart was intricately designed by God to be responsive. Our hearts naturally long to be courted and to be won. However, we do ourselves and the men in our lives a disservice when we indulge ourselves in a practice of over-romanticizing marriage and dating relationships. It can truly shut down our ability to respond freely and fully when it is time to.

Sometimes I think the poor fellas can be sabotaged before they even begin to approach one of us because we have nurtured such outlandish expectations of what those encounters with the opposite sex are “supposed” to be like. I about did Greg in during that season of our lives with analyzing what I should be feeling, how he should or shouldn’t be leading, whether we had the right amount of “fireworks,” and if I was about to miss God’s will if I went for it. How much time and emotional energy had I invested for years in romantic fantasy, fueled by movies, books (Christian romance, of course!), plain old comparison, and my own secret hopes?

At the time, I found myself genuinely conflicted. I had to come to faith that I was created for the role of being a responder. To boil it down, for me it was a battle between Fantasy and Reality, and trust me, #thestrugglewasreal. This handsome, hairy man chose to pursue me, and now I can’t even imagine what I would have missed out on if the Holy Spirit had not filled me with enough bravery to abandon myself to the wild mystery that is relationship, and to risk saying yes to this amazing, faithful, funny, wise, self-sacrificing, imperfect, flesh-and-blood man who was right in front of me.

When a real-live man who is sincerely following Christ takes the initiative toward you, try responding. He is honoring you by wanting to know you. It takes vulnerability and courage to share his affection with you. I would hope that as tender women with soft hearts, we could have a heart-response of gratefulness and openness. Give a guy the chance. Be appreciative of what is right in front of you. Embrace the simple. Learn to accept that person and enjoy them for who they are. Let enough time pass to see what grows and develops without (a) rejecting the possibility of a future together, or (b) rushing straight ahead to planning the ceremony and imagining what your children will look like!

Let’s choose to have soft, grateful hearts for the men God brings into our lives. Every relationship along the way is an opportunity to practice responding out of our feminine hearts and honoring the masculine soul anywhere we see it on display. No matter what season we each find ourselves in, could we champion the men in our lives…our brothers, our dads, our pastors, our friends? Could we make it a joy for them to be the leaders they are created to be? the initiators? the hard workers? providers? protectors? They should be able to count on us as their #1 supporters. And after all, how irresistible is that?

This post was written by Jill Brown. To read more about her, click here

At the Hands of the Potter

potter-and-clay“And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

It was late one evening, and I found myself sitting in a coffee shop with a young college girl listening to her heart on a recent break up. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard similar questions from a single woman trying to figure out how to navigate God’s direction in the area of singleness. How do I honor men during this time in my life? Will I know he is the one? 

My heart so badly wanted to give her a 12-step program on what to do and not to do, but God stirred me to pause. That decision did not sit well with me; there is something more than a to-do list God is wanting to reveal to single women’s hearts.  God has called us to honor, and when we’re single, sometimes it’s hard to know what honor looks like during our singleness. I truly believe in order for us be able to honor men during a time of singleness,we have to understand that men are never ours in the first place.

Isaiah 64:8 talks about all of us being formed by the Potter. We are all being shaped, molded, and polished by our Father. Women must understand that in order to honor anything in their lives, they must first realize how to honor the one who formed them. Honor means to have integrity for one’s beliefs and actions.

I love this definition because it perfectly sums up how we should honor God’s works: it is simply having integrity for his beliefs and actions in our lives. In other words, loving and accepting the clay pot He is creating. Because you, my friend, weren’t meant to carry the responsibility of the Potter…your only responsibility is to continue to be molded and formed in his image.

I have noticed that women compartmentalize God depending on what season they are currently in. A season in the natural sense has a clear start and end, but what if you find yourself widowed and thrown into the single season? Or as a woman in a successful career who hasn’t found a godly man to settle down with? What about a single mom wanting so badly for a loving husband and daddy for your littles? We limit His capacity to move and speak, by placing single women in a “season” when not all of them wanted to be there in the first place. It puts God in a box when in fact He is wanting to move.

So today I am going to speak truth into all the lumps of clay being formed on the Potter’s wheel. Women—married or single, young or old—all women have a specific call and yearning in their hearts that is God-breathed: To follow and honor the one true King. Then we are able to honor men during this season as well, because they too find themselves at the hands of the Potter. Our calling in life is not being single, it is not even being a wife or mom, but it is to first honor Him with all of our being.

This post was written by Madi Mikael.